The One

I got my AlphaSmart Neo. It’s so cool! It’s tiny, slimmer than the AS 3000 I borrowed from a friend. I’m happy. Natually, it arrived while I wasn’t home. My husband called me to tell me it was here. I used it a little lastnight, playing around, and I can see where I’ll get some good use out of it, especially when I can’t surf the web on it. Why do I click that IE button so easily? I don’t know, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I’m working on the WIP, things are difficult, and I suddenly need to know if I’ve gotten any email in the past 5 minutes.

Had lunch with Ann Peach, her husband Ralph, and Aloha Chapter President Leslee Ellenson yesterday. We went to Mariposa, a restaurant in Neiman Marcus that has a gorgeous view of Ala Moana beach park and the ocean. I was 15 minutes late, thanks to traffic (1 hour to go 5 miles–that sucks). They were kind enough to wait to order, though I felt bad that they did. But, I was there at 1:00, we ordered, and stayed there until about 4:30. Amazing how much talking you can do when you get writers together! Poor Ralph, he is a very patient man. He and Ann are adorable together, still very much in love after 38 years of marriage.

We talked about many things. Ann says that paranormal is hot in New York, no surprise, and that erotica is in demand. Ann said that everyone she knows is looking for books. That is encouraging. We also agreed that you shouldn’t try to write the latest thing if you weren’t interested in it simply to try and get sold. Your lack of interest will show in the writing; besides, the market may change before you finish that vampire erotic time-travel ghost story anyway.

I can’t even remember all we talked about. I just know we had fun, laughed a lot, and talked writing quite a bit. We also talked restaurants and travel, and good cheap places to eat on Oahu. They are here, of course, but not in Waikiki where all the tourists go. Chinatown is excellent for inexpensive food (hubby and I ate dinner for $18; that’s two giant entrees, spring rolls, and drinks). There are also some great places on the North Shore ($12 for two entrees, chips and salsa, and drinks at Killer Taco in Haleiwa). So you just have to look and be willing to explore. If you want to sit beside the ocean and sip Mai Tai’s while a band plays Hawaiian music, be prepared to pay. But, you can always eat cheap elsewhere and join the crowd for Hawaiian music on the patio of the big hotels in Waikiki. Then all you need to do is order a drink. πŸ™‚ Lots cheaper that way.

Today’s plan is to write at least a scene. Hubby is home, however, so who knows what will ultimately happen. He does have a paper to finish, so perhaps he will be busy. He mentioned the beach earlier. I can do that, and take my Neo. Not against an afternoon in the sun (slathered in sunblock, of course).

Aloha.

Peach-y Keen

I am back from Rib Fest 2005. It was a success, and of course my hubby is now napping. He has basked in the glow of his coworkers’ compliments and is free to snore in exhausted oblivion. I, on the other hand, am wondering where in the heck is my AlphaSmart. Day 4 of the vigil and no Alphie in sight. It’s coming from CA for pete’s sake! They charged me express rate because some poor pilot has to fly over an ocean to get here–apparently that makes the destination farther away than, say, Boston. It’s 2500 miles from CA to Hawaii. Gimmee a break.

I also forgot to call the Menehune water people and tell them not to deliver a 5 gallon bottle of water today. So naturally they did, and naturally I already have six bottles sitting around here because I have forgotten before and they will deliver anyway if you don’t tell them otherwise. So I have 7 bottles total with a $10 deposit on each. It’s a new savings account! Rack up bottles and then cash them in when you need funds. Sheesh, why can’t I remember what day they deliver!! I have got to get rid of at least 4 of these things. It’s ridiculous.

All right, enough blathering. On to critique. It took me an hour to get there, btw, and it’s less than 7 miles away. Very bad traffic day in Honolulu. πŸ™ Ann Peach was there, as I said, and she’s so interesting and informative. She told me what I already kind of sort of suspected but didn’t want to admit: my first 3 pages need to go. The first line of the book is halfway down page 3 (not the 1st line of dialogue, but the perfect opening hook–which also happens to be dialogue). She says you should think of the scene like a movie scene. If you were a director, where would you start? Where’s the action? My heroine sitting in her car and thinking of why she’s back in her hometown and why she doesn’t want to be isn’t good enough, even though she thinks about her past relationship with the hero and about her urgent goal for returning. Ain’t good enough. I knew it, and I’m actually much happier that someone else saw it and pointed out what I’d only suspected. Ann says to go with your gut. If you think it’s wrong, it probably is.

I also think that if you’ve reached the stage in your writing where you only have to cut three pages in the beginning rather than three chapters, you’re moving up in the world, baby! I remember when Rebecca Brandewyne once said that she had to toss the first 100 pages of an early novel because it was all backstory and irrelevant. I, of course, made all the newbie mistakes and piled the beginning with irrelevant backstory in my first book years ago. I hope I have learned since then, but you know, I always write that stuff in there somehow anyway and then end up cutting it. Not chapters anymore, but definitely pages. I used to love prologues too, but now I avoid them like the plague. And, oh hell, where was my brain when I included that half page of flashback not all that long ago on the second page of the book? No, no, no. Sell a few books, get rich and popular (hahahaha!) and then do whatever you want. Until then, no cigar. *sigh*

Speaking of cigars, you have to see Triumph the Insult Comic Dog do the weather for Hawaii. LOL! http://www.nbc.com/nbc/Late_Night_with_Conan_O Why do I laugh at a really bad puppet cracking jokes? I don’t know, but the dude behind the act is hysterical. And he gives it to Hawaii during the weather report. It’s Armageddon in Hawaii!

I have to report that I did not get any writing done yesterday. πŸ™ Hubby did manage to wash his Jeep and clean the yard alone, but I got busy updating my checking account on Quicken and making sure I hadn’t forgotten to pay any bills. I am very good at forgetting when I get immersed in a book. Today is a shot writing day so far, mostly because of lack of sleep and hauling all that food around this morning. And I keep obsessing about the Alphie, looking out the window when I hear a truck. It’s like Christmas and I just can’t wait for morning.

I need to get busy though. Might be having lunch with Ann tomorrow, so I need to be able to say I was working. She likes to ask me what I’m working on, how close I am to completing it, when I think I can finish, etc. And then she likes to tell me I need to finish the book and have it ready to go ASAP. She is so right, of course.

Aloha for now…..

Lavatopia

What the heck? Seriously, not kidding, it’s an article in the NY Times about building your house on a lava field. (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/30/garden/30lava.html?8hpib)

Apparently, some folks on the Big Island (Hawaii for those of you who don’t know one Hawaiian island from another one–and trust me, that was me just a little over a year and a half ago) are building houses on lava fields. One lady, currently being sued by the state, lugged a bunch of stuff, including a disco ball, across a lava field and into a lava tube. She set up house in the cave-like structure, complete with shelves made from boogie boards. She also had a four-poster bed. Now, I’m telling you that real estate is through the roof in Hawaii (the state, not just the island) so it doesn’t surprise me. Oahu, the island where I live, is outrageously expensive to buy a house. Still, I’m not envisioning myself on a lava field. Not that we have any lava fields on this island, though Kaena point, at the north western tip, has black lava shelfs that drop off into the ocean. It’s pretty cool up there, though very rugged.

If you’re a Lost fan, parts of it, where the plane crashed and all that, are filmed very close to Kaena Point. Mokuleia is the beach, I think. I remember that plane scattered over the beach, too. At first, I thought something terrible had happened and wondered why I hadn’t heard it on the news. Then my hubby informs me it was a movie prop. I’d been on the island all of two days at this point, where he’d been here for two months. Movie prop or not, it’s damn scary to see a wrecked airliner scattered across the ground. Not an image one wants in one’s head (to sound totally Virginia Woolf-ish).

In fact, in a totally smart-ass way, we always joke when we drive past that beach about how stupid those Lost folks are; if they’d just walk across the street, Dillingham Airfield–complete with gliders and sky-diving–is RIGHT there. Sheesh.

But okay, before anyone thinks I’m a total b**tch for talking about how I live in Hawaii, let me tell you the bad things about this state. Bugs, dude. Gigantic, humongous, need their own zipcode bugs. Flying roaches with tailnumbers. Centipedes that suffered some sort of nuclear accident before growing to proportions only seen in cheap horror movies. I had never, ever in my life seen a 10-inch long centipede that was also at least 1/2 an inch wide until I moved to Hawaii. Now imagine that in your house at 3 AM. Ohmygod! They come up out of the drains, people. The drains! I make sure every drain in my house is plugged every night. I haven’t had a problem, even when I forget, but my friend who lives in a second story condo gets the damn things in her sink and on her kitchen counters if she forgets to plug the drains. And they ain’t little.

They tell me there are giant spiders here too, but I haven’t seen those yet. And scorpions on the leeward coast. Honolulu is technically leeward, I think, though I’m talking about the west-facing part of the island. Oahu has distinct climates, too. One side, the windward, is lush and tropical just like you’d expect, but the leeward is desert, complete with cactuses. The center is green and lush too, though more forest-y than palm-y, if that makes sense. We even have a freshwater lake in the center of the island where you can bass fish.

But back to those centipedes. They aren’t poisonous, thank God, but their sting is supposed to be very painful. I don’t want to find out. And they like to hide in your bed, I’ve been told. I am just paranoid enough to check the bed EVERY night to make sure there are no hidden creatures in it. My hubby used to complain. Now, he just shrugs and says, are you ready to check the bed? So, if you take nothing else from this rant, please be sure that if you visit Hawaii you do NOT walk around barefoot on the grass, especially at night. I am not joking. Just yesterday I watched an egret swoop into my yard in broad daylight and pick up a 5-inch long centipede. I wear slippers (flip-flops) all the time. I take them off to walk in the sand, but I would never walk across grass without them.

And did I mention the geckos? People think they’re cute, and so did I until I had to live with them. Nasty creatures who poop ten times as much as they ought to, and usually on your window sills. I have also found gecko poop on my books and on the pillow in my guest room (I promise, if you come visit, I will make sure it’s all clean first). We usually try to catch them and throw them out, but it isn’t easy. They are very fast. And did I mention noisy? They make a loud clucking sound.

Oh, we better not forget the rats either. Hawaii has rats. Lots of rats, though they are sort of small and shy, not New York sewer rats or anything. They come out at night. Someone had a bright idea once to bring in mongooses to take care of the rats. One problem with that idea. Rats are nocturnal and mongooses are not. It’s cuter than heck to see riki-tiki-tavi on the lanai from time to time, though, even if he is useless in the War on Rats.

But, even with all that, I love Hawaii. It took me a while. I had rock fever pretty bad about a month after I got here. I missed Europe, wanted to go back, and felt crammed onto a tiny island. But it isn’t as tiny as you think, and the feeling passes. Unless you are the sort of person who loves to drive hundreds of miles every day, you’ll be fine in Hawaii. No more long trips, and no more highways packed with 18-wheelers. We don’t have many 18-wheelers here at all. One day I passed three on the road and I was shocked. Usually, I don’t see any.

Well, this is certainly a long, middle of the night rambling post, but it’s the hubby’s fault. Apparently, those darned ribs have to start smoking at 3AM to be ready for lunch time. I am seriously miffed about this. I’ll talk about critique group and writing stuff another time since rambling on about Hawaii happened because of the NY Times lava article. Blame them, not me. I just want to go to sleep! If you can spare a moment, think sympathetic thoughts for me.

I’d rather be in this picture….


Sunset Beach, Oahu’s North Shore. See, there are too uncrowded beaches on this island. Just not in Waikiki.

Hubby took a week off of work, starting today, so my routine is seriously compromised. He has class work to do, so he will be off doing that on the other computer. Maybe I will get something done after all. It’s not the same as when I’m alone in the house, though. He’s already announced plans to wash his Jeep, clean the yard, and go grocery shopping (me in attendance for this part) because he plans to smoke ribs and brats tomorrow morning. The man takes a week off work, but then decides to spend a morning smoking food and taking it up to his office for lunch. Sweet, but crazy. And I am invited. Read that as I am required to help. πŸ™‚

Yesterday’s writing: not stellar, but not bad either. I didn’t write those 5 new pages, but I did finish a scene, and figured out what needs to happen next. Unfortunately, the next scene was written in the hero’s POV when it needs to be in the heroine’s. She’s the one with a goal in the next scene, an important one that doesn’t actually involve the hero (though he is there), and she doesn’t get her goal. Further complications ensue, and her goal is pushed back a bit. Since the hero doesn’t actually know what her true goal is at the moment, being in his POV is sort of pointless. He could watch her crash and burn, see she’s upset, but he wouldn’t know the import of the situation to her. So, it’s her POV and I had to cut the entire scene to make way for writing the new one. At least I know what I’ll be doing today! Oh yeah, provided I don’t get dragged Jeep washing, yard cleaning, and grocery shopping in succession. I am only supposed to go along for the grocery bit, so we’ll see. Since I need to go to the PO, and it’s next door to the store, I don’t mind this part.

And tonight is critique group at Borders. Ann Peach is joining us. She’s a lovely lady who is so encouraging to writers. She writes a column in Romantic Times magazine about the craft of writing, though I don’t think she’s done one lately because she’d been sick. She’s recovering now and hopefully will be back to it soon. I believe she moderated a panel on writing at the last RT convention. Or she was slated to anyway, not sure if she made it or not. I’ve never been to an RT convention, but there’s a good chance the 2007 one will take place in Honolulu, so I guess I’ll have to pop in.

Oh, got a fun email from American Express. I totally giggled. Here’s the sentence: You can earn 5% cash back on each eligible dollar you spend on everyday purchases such as gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores when you spend over $6500 annually. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think my credit limit is high enough to buy a gas station! And I’m sure it’ll cost more than $6500 to do so. Now, to be fair, I know I’ve written some clunky sentences in this blog (one really good misplaced modifier for sure, which I refuse to point out and which I decided to leave intact just because I don’t want to be anal about the blog; a story is different, of course), but good grief, this is a business letter designed to make me spend more on my AE card! Where is the copy editor?! I’m not complaining really. It gave me a giggle, and that’s always a good thing. πŸ™‚

I hope I get my new AlphaSmart today. Naturally, since they said 3-5 days and this is only day 3, I’ll get it Friday. Nothing ever arrives when you want it to. I could go to Borders early and work while I wait for everyone to show up. Well, I could do that anyway with the borrowed Alphie. My only problem with the borrowed one is I can’t connect it to my laptop. It has that old keyboard port, and my laptop is brand new and fussy, so I have to connect to the desktop, download, share the file, and then access it from the laptop and cut and paste. Too much work. I want my spiffy USB connection!

Okay, today’s goal. Uh, not too sure there, because of temporal disturbances in the Force (i.e. hubby is home and has personal agenda) so maybe I’ll just say I’m going to write the new scene and hope I manage to do something more than that.

I guess I am pau (finished) for now. Aloha. πŸ™‚

Tuesday Morning

In some ways, I already have the lifestyle one thinks about successful writers having–if you’re thinking about a tropical island and palm trees swaying in the wind. If we’re talking about money, or a house on the beach, fuggedaboutit.

Tuesday morning, and here I am with my 100% Kona coffee (best darn stuff in the world), the windows and doors all open, and a gentle tradewind blowing through the house. Can it get any better? Uh, yeah. I could actually have an income from my writing and feel a lot less like a slug. I’m happy, but I feel guilty because my husband gets up every morning and trots off to work. He loves his job though, so I shouldn’t feel too bad. I am a lucky woman, and I thank God every day for that.

Okay, so what did I do yesterday? I had a 5 page goal, and I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if I reached it or not, because a lot of what I did was layering and revising of earlier stuff. If I’m brutally honest with myself, probably not. Probably more like two new pages. Except, I had a better idea last night of where I was going than I did when I started.

I did waste a lot of time at the eHarlequin website yesterday. But I can’t really call it wasted. I found a Q&A with Brenda Chin where she talks about the Blaze line and contest. Learned some stuff, I did! For instance, she doesn’t care if the manuscript is incomplete. She’d rather work with you on finishing it than have a complete mss that needed a lot of work. Also, the big word count and format bugaboo that drives writers nuts. She said computer word count was fine. (!!) She also said she didn’t care if your margins were 1 or 1.25 inches. A standard 12 point font is fine. Nothing weird. TNR probably works best for that, my opinion, though I am in the habit of putting work for submission into 12pt Courier with 1 inch margins and 25 lines per page. This will be a hard habit to break, especially since it has been hammered into me since I was a baby writer that it was the professional way to do it. Only amateurs use fancy fonts and improper margins. Uh-huh. Think again.

Word count is the key though, and probably why they don’t care about the format so long as you know the word count. And, let’s face it, these days, we’re all using Word and we’ve all got the same count feature and its pretty standard. And it’s come a long way since the days of Windows 3.1. Uh, yeah, I was a 3.1 user, so I guess that dates me. In fact, I was on the Internet back when you used to have to Telnet and Gopher. I’m not really that old, for heaven’s sake, but I was on the information superhighway before it had easy to read road signs. πŸ™‚ I remember bulletin boards and getting on line with a 2400 baud modem. When we upgraded to 9600 baud, we were flying. Ha! And I am not yet 40, so there, that should dispense the image of a graying old lady talking about walking uphill both ways through snow to access her internet connection.

Worked on my contributor notes for the short story anthology I’m appearing in. It’s always weird to try and write something that sounds interesting and yet remains the truth. To prepare, I looked at notes from other publications. Some folks are very wordy, others have 3 short sentences about themselves. I tend to the wordy side, but I think I managed 4 sentences. And then the sentences about the story itself, in which I still managed to talk about me. Ha! But the inspiration for the story comes from my life, so it wasn’t gratuitous.

I love these early mornings in Hawaii. The sky is almost always blue, and the air is warm and fragrant, and it makes you feel happy to be alive. I love the day just beginning, and the idea that it’s a new day and a new chance for me to write something, to get to a new place in my story. It stretches before me like a blank canvas, and it makes me want to achieve something before I climb in bed at the end of it. My husband wants me to trek downtown for lunch, but I don’t really want to. He works in the center of the island, but today is in Honolulu. If I go, if I spend time getting dressed and driving down there and finding parking and meeting him in the Ala Moana mall, I won’t get a thing done. I’ll have to go to Williams-Sonoma to look at pots and pans and gadgets, and I’ll have to pop into Macy’s and the Gap, and before you know it the day will be galloping toward a close and I won’t have anything done. I could take my borrowed AlphaSmart and try to work, I guess, but since I need to be onscreen with the current story right now, I’d have to work on something different. Nope, probably not going to go. I don’t feel too bad, since he’s taking tomorrow off anyway.

Oh, speaking of AlphaSmart, I ordered my own finally. I just have to have it. Naturally, they charge $25 to ship to Hawaii, but it should be here tomorrow or by Friday at the latest. It better be, since it cost that much to ship it! My husband thought it was just a useless gadget, especially since he bought me a nice new laptop, but when he saw it and saw me using it, he changed his mind. The AS is less worrisome. If I take it to Borders, I’m not as worried as I am over my laptop. When I set up my laptop, it’s a process, even though it’s a great computer and slim and features the Centrino technology. The AS runs on AA batteries and you can toss it into a bag. It’s not fussy like a computer. The thing that bothers me about working on my computer in a public place is how bright and lovely the screen is. Anyone who gets close enough can see what I’m writing. Don’t like that, not because I’m worried about someone stealing my words but because it feels like exposing yourself to have raw work out there for anyone to read. On the other hand, when I do a writing day at my friend’s house, I love to take my computer. It’s just the two of us, though, and I don’t have to pack up the computer when I need to pee.

Okay, I’ve been at this blog for half an hour, and I’m certain the writing batteries are charged, so it’s time to get busy. Again, I’m trying for 5 pages.